At one point in the Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly one character utters the words "America is not a country. It's a business." This cynicism permeates the film's 97 minutes and is decorated by satirical touches and a number of grittier instances.
Set during the 2008 election in run-down New Orleans, three lower end criminals concoct a plan to rob a mob-protected card game. They pull off the job, but complications arise for the trio when the mob brings in Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to restore balance to local crime community.
Dominik shows little restraint in this thriller and gets right in the audience's face from the get-go as a voice-over of an Obama speech resounds over black. Suddenly the speech is intermittently interrupted by the credits rolling over and slowly the camera moves toward an opening that feels like a release from the cacophony of the credits. However, as soon as the camera exits the tunnel, it is only to find a disheveled, almost apocalyptic looking New Orleans. The film seems to have a dark aura surrounding it visually until Frankie(Scott McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) show up to discuss a new business proposition. Their repartee is humorous and their pathetic nature juxtaposes nicely with the grimy backdrop. In fact, all the characters in this film, save for Pitt's Cogan, share this common nature, albeit in different ways: Frankie, Russell, and their boss Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) are dumber than they realize; Driver (Richard Jenkins) is the mob's middle man who knows little about how the business operates; Markie Trattman's (Ray Liotta) hubris proves his undoing; and Mickey (James Gandolfini) is undergoing an identity crisis. Continue Reading